thank you to our new friends in italy who sent us this translation of the article.... some of the things they said are pretty funny, if you know meatball you will see what we are talking about. The only thing meatball smokes are his mufflers, maybe that is his problem...would be much cooler with a cigarette I guess. enjoy the article! - Rose
His name is Jeff, but his customers call him Meatball, “polpetta” in Italian. He is the most renowned motorbike mechanic of the whole US West Coast and Brittown film is dedicated to his life. He told Riders about his relationship with Triumph, BSA, Norton…And what about Harleys? Never!
Jeff has got a wife, two children and everything that runs on two wheels, provided that it has an engine and is English. Money? “What I raise thanks to the motorbikes is enough, all the rest…I don’t need it”
FULL TEXT - PAGES 93-94-98
He smiles, Jeff. His face is the one of who knows how to listen and his hands, dirty with sludge, grease, engine oil and wiped on the jeans and Norton shirt he’s wearing, speak for him. We’re in Anaheim, California, 40km south from Los Angeles. We’re in front of a wooden detached house in an American residential area, one of those that look like they have come out of a production line, as featureless as Jeff Tulinius’ garage, a 46 years old mechanic specialized in English motorbikes. Everybody on the West Coast knows him as Meatball, “polpetta”, one of those nicknames you are given when you’re young and then remain stuck on you forever.
Who comes here with a wreck Triumph, BSA or Norton knows he’s in the right place, a garage where disorder hides experience: bunches of exhausts of two-stroke engines that desert raids have worn out, a tangle of English street twins dating back to the 70s and two Ducatis supporting a platform with 20 other motorbikes. You watch him while he reconditions a cylinder bore or takes the primary drive gears off by heating them with a blowtorch and you understand that the man in front of you is not one of the many old-school-wanna-be mechanics, an improviser working on motorbikes full of history and style just to act tony, or someone who just rides the wave of two-wheel vintage fashion. Waves. Jeff rode those of the Pacific Ocean, at the nearby Venice Beach. As a boy, he was a surf champion and even before, at the age of 8, he used to ride his father’s motorbike, a Triumph T3 that today takes him round Orange County.
“There’s people who ride motorbikes in search of an identity” says Jeff sneering behind his sailor hat, his eyes staring at the connecting rod of a ’71 BSA. “I’ve been carrying engines inside since I was born, they’re friends of mine, fixing them is a like treating myself”. His illness is called passion and the medicine cannot be injected, but must be cultivated day after day. When running a garage on L.A. coast started to require too much money, Meatball decided to move to the suburbs with his wife Rose, a 26 years old nurse, and their two children. Himself, his family and his motorbikes. Everything that didn’t fit in the house ended up in his old car parked in the street. Just like the strollers and the kids toys left on the back seat, who knows since how much time, the first sign of his lifestyle.
Jeff didn’t get rich with English specials, as you get to speak about money he says: “What I raise thanks to the motorbikes is enough, all the rest…I don’t need it”. His name is world-famous though, thanks to the film Brittown. Directors Scott Di Lalla and Zack Coffman discovered an introverted, simple and frank guy, one that fix your motorbike even if you don’t know yet how to pay for the repair. No tattoos, long hair or piercings, just his lifestyle that gravitates around real motorbikes. It took the directors three months shooting in California to document the life of Jeff and of the friends of the No Gooders Motorcycle Club, who share with him the passion for 60s and 70s British motorcycles. Three months spent shooting in the desert like Steve McQueen, with an old Triumph on Cub Desert Sled, a track on which races took place in the 60s, when Enduro Bikes were called Scrambler and races seemed “trips to the country” compared to today’s performances. Shooting went on even at weekends at Rosamond’s Willow Spring Raceway with a Triumph modified for the flat track, wearing a T-shirt on the protectors and boots laced up with leather laces.
“During races we try to stick, as far as possible, to the way of riding of the time”, explains Jeff “what matters to us is having fun and the relationship with ours motorcycles, much more than the challenge with other riders”. That’s called style, Jeff. Style. When we point out that he’s got style to spare, he shrugs, takes a drag on his cigarette and says: “Style? Sounds good. But I’m just myself”. Indeed, he’s just himself. In his garage inspiration is not lacking, from the autographed poster of Gene Romero, one of the strongest US riders who, in 1975, won Daytona 200-Mile Race, to the mechanics handbooks, to the spare parts originally from the 70s and the guitars. Yes, there’s music too in Meatball’s life: he’s the front-man of the rockabilly Smiling Face Down band. Vintage-style rock’n’roll, of course.
His dream, he confesses after some hours spent with him, “is a tour in Italy, riding and performing live throughout the peninsula”. Some more talking, a beer and a hamburger. Then, to help digestion, he leaps into the saddle of a ’59 Triumph and starts to sideslip for 20 minutes before the photographer’s lens. Now we hope his dream may come true: Jeff must really be imported into Italy.
A family among the bolts//
This page: Jeff with his wife and their daughter.
Previous page: Jeff sideslipping on an old Triumph on some dirt patch.
The garage at home//
In the biggest image, an engine block seen from the side of the primary drive. In the two small pics, a fuel tank, exhausts, old English motorcycles and a track Bonneville with the 805 race number. Below, the poster of Brittown, the film that tells the story of Meatball, that can be purchased online on amazon.com.
Jeff Tulinius, 46 years old, is the protagonist of Brittown, a film about the life and passion of the Californian mechanic and the riders of the No Gooders Motorcycle Club
Surrounded by Vintage//
Above, Jeff working on a motorbike. In the small pictures, clock-wise strarting from the left: spare parts, the T-shirts that Meatball wears during races, vintage advertising, the car he uses as a storeroom, the original handbooks of the Triumphs sold in US, working tools.
Two pictures portraying Jeff’s passion: the classic motorbikes he repairs in the garage on the back of his house in Anaheim, California
 The title is a pun starting from “ripetizioni” meaning both “private lessons” and “repetitions”.